The World Health Organisation (WHO) has blamed childhood obesity, especially in developing countries, on the marketing of sugar-rich non-alcoholic beverages and ultra-processed, energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods.
WHO Director-General, Margaret Chan told the Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity yesterday.
“Childhood obesity can erode the benefits that arrive with social and economic progress. Childhood obesity must be accepted as a significant and urgent threat to health that is relevant in all countries. Governments must take the lead,” she said.
Chan praised the interim report on the work carried out thus far by the Commission and commended the group’s warning that `voluntary initiatives are not likely to be sufficient’.
“To be successful, efforts aimed at reducing the marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages need support from regulatory and statutory approaches.
“Perhaps most importantly, you defined a moral responsibility and stated where it must lie. None of the factors that cause obesity are under the control of the child,” she said.
According to WHO, the number of overweight or obese infants and young children increased from 32 million globally in 1990 to 42 million in 2013. In Africa alone, the number of overweight or obese children increased from 4 to 9 million over the same period.
The WHO fact sheet on childhood obesity also said the vast majority of overweight or obese children live in developing countries. It said if the current trends continue the number of overweight or obese infants and young children globally will increase to 70 million by 2025.
WHO governing body, the World Health Assembly, in 2014 approved the Global Action Plan for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases 2013-2020. It aims to achieve the commitments of the UN Political Declaration on non-communicable diseases (NCDs).The action plan is expected to contribute to progress on nine global NCD targets to be attained by 2025.These targets include halting global obesity rates in school-aged children, adolescents and ad


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